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Washington 'Should Cut Pakistani Aid,' Says New RAND Report

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AfPak news round-up:

RAND: Washington should cut aid to Pakistan. A new report by the RAND Corporation, which claims the Pakistan government to use militant groups to support its foreign policy, echoes similar findings made in a report released by the London School of Economics last week. The RAND report says Washington should reduce military aid to Pakistan, then work out a "timeline" with Islamabad whereby concrete action against terrorism by the Pakistan government is rewarded with gradual restoration of U.S. aid. It also recommends the U.S. reduce its reliance on Pakistan as a transit route for troops and goods headed for Afghanistan. [Al Jazeera English]

U.S. hopes anti-Taliban revolt in Afghan town can be replicated. The town of Gizab, which lies just north of Kandahar, was until a few months ago a rest-and-resupply area for Taliban fighters. But locals' resentment of Taliban rule led them, with U.S. and allied support, to raise an anti-insurgent militia that succeeded in removing insurgents from the area. A State Department official in southern Afghanistan is hopeful the rebellion can prove a model for civilian uprisings elsewhere: "We're looking for the patterns. If we can find it, we'll be on the verge of a breakthrough." [WaPo]

Afghan police "asleep on the job." U.S. troops in Kandahar are becoming increasingly frustrated with a corrupt, apathetic police force that they believe to be riddled with Taliban informers. First Lt. James Rathmann said of police officers' dedication to their jobs, "I see a burning desire only to get through the day and collect a paycheck." Police officers defend their practices by complaining that their salaries -- starting pay is $210 per month -- are too low for them not to take bribes. The upper echelons of the Afghan government have not set an example for officers; widespread graft in Kabul means local police are perpetually undersupplied. Instead, they turn to NATO troops for everything from ammunition to generators and air conditioners to bottled water. [WaPo]

Karzai peace commission frees 14 detainees. Two dozen more releases are said to be imminent, as Afghan President Hamid Karzai tries to coax Taliban commanders into taking part in peace talks. All of the commission's members are appointed by Karzai, and no representatives from any Afghan security agency sit on the commission. Martine van Bijlert, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, worries "that Karzai is acting as if there is a fresh start and as if everything has already been forgiven - without there having been any real negotiations or concessions." [McClatchy]

Afghan opiate use has doubled in last five years. Though Afghan opium cultivation dropped by 22 percent in the past year, a new report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime warns that skyrocketing drug use within Afghanistan has increased insecurity, theft and violence throughout the country. It is unclear whether a drop in the world price of opium over the past few years has made dealers more likely to sell their product within Afghanistan. [AP]